By Laura Keil

Property assessments are in, and while the average change isn’t turning heads, some people saw astronomical changes for their homes—up to 45 per cent.

Valemount resident Courtney Lewis saw a 31 per cent increase on her property, from $225,000 to $295,000, which could result in an extra $800 in taxes this year if Village of Valemount mil rates are similar to last year.

She says she’s worried that if she contests the assessment, the value might actually go up.

“It said it was a 1000 sq ft trailer, which it’s not,” she said. It was originally a 16ft-wide modular with 6in-walls but they’ve had their addition since 2015.

The average change for single family homes in Valemount was just a 0.3 per cent increase (business properties decreased by 1.6 per cent). In McBride, single family homes went up 3.9 per cent (business properties decreased by 3.9 per cent).

The assessments received by residents in the mail in January are based on the property’s condition on July 1st the year prior.

Rural areas in the region saw greater increases: Single family homes went up 6.5 per cent in the rural area spanning from Dome Creek to west of Tete Jaune. Single family homes went up 3.4 per cent in the rural area surrounding Valemount, Tete Jaune and Mt Robson.

One resident living on the Dore River, west of McBride, said her assessment went up by $50,000, even though half an acre of her property washed away last year due to high waters. We reached out for an interview but did not hear back by presstime.

Changes in property value don’t necessarily mean an increase or decrease in taxes, said Jarrett Krantz, Deputy Assessor Northern BC Region. What matters is how much your assessment changed relative to the average.

In other words, if your property assessment went up 5 per cent, but the average change was 10 per cent, you could end up paying less taxes.

In addition, the Village of Valemount, which decides tax rates, decides on tax rates for each property class separately—in other words, it can change how much taxes it collects from residents, businesses and industry each year.

Krantz says big increases are often a correction to market value for properties that have historically been undervalued. In other cases, they reflect upgrades to the building or a new garage.

“It really does boil down to what is the market value of the property that year,” he told the Goat.

While many residents hypothesized online that mobile homes had shot up in value, but Krantz says that’s not true.

“There hasn’t been any specific trend there,” he said. The majority of manufactured homes went up 0-5 per cent in both Valemount and McBride this year.

If you think there’s been a mistake on your assessment you can contest it with BC Assessment.

‘The best option is to explore their individual property with us,” Krantz said. “If the market value doesn’t seem accurate we can explore that in depth.”

In any case, anyone can contest their assessment, but they must do so by February 1st, 2021.